The 10 Things You MUST Do If You're Having a Tent Wedding

Updated 10/10/19

Photo by Birds of a Feather Photography

There are plenty of reasons brides, grooms, and planners alike love tented weddings—the ambience, the cozy feeling, the air of intimacy, and the whole party (and all the wedding décor) is safe and protected from the elements. But erecting a wedding structure is nothing like putting together the tent you and your fiancé use when you go camping. It takes a lot of work, and requires just as much preparation and planning. There are tons of details that must be taken into consideration before making the decision to opt for a tented wedding. For example, if you love the look of a clear top tent, the see-through structure is great at bringing the outdoors in at your event, but it also acts as a greenhouse, trapping warm air and posing a threat to those wilt-able flowers. Or perhaps you're worried that your tent might be too big for your party size. Adding warm lighting can make a massive tent appear cozy and intimate, especially if you lack the headcount to fill out the space.

To get started on planning your own canopied big day, take note of these 10 must-know facts about wedding tents.

1. Plan for a Hefty Bill

Renting a tent is expensive (starting at $1,500 for 100 guests), and you're also responsible for the cost of all the other rentals, décor, and equipment it takes to turn the raw space into an inviting atmosphere for a wedding.

2. Pick a Model

Take into consideration not only what you want to achieve aesthetically, but also important aspects such as the weather, décor, and functionality of the space. Pole tents have peaks, created by center poles, and are vinyl or sailcloth. Structure and frame tents have an open steel shell that can support heavy equipment like big speakers. Clear tops are sleek and modern, offering views of the surrounding landscape.

3. Find the Right Spot

Focus on the view and the scale of the tent in relation to the surroundings—it shouldn't swallow the entire plot of land. And don't forget to find a flat surface at least 10 feet from any building (for the stakes).

4. Know Your Venue's Rules Before You Book

Can you stake directly into the ground? Are there noise restrictions? When can you start setting up? That last one's crucial because erecting a tent can take anywhere from one to four days.

5. Reserve It Early

Rental companies have a limited supply of styles and sizes, so book one as soon as you finalize your date and have a good idea of the guest count—no later than six months before the wedding.

6. Get the Proper Size

A tent that's too big or too small can mess up the flow and vibe of your party. As a general rule, figure 18 square feet of tent per person for a seated dinner and dancing.

7. Have a Rain Plan—and Don't Forget the Walls

In perfect weather, you can leave the tent open. But if you need to keep the outdoors out, have wall paneling ready and a plan that can be put into action quickly.

8. Consider Flooring

Grass is your cheapest option, but if you don't want the ladies to ruin their heels, cover the ground with wood flooring, sisal carpet, or Astroturf (an affordable option) in a neutral hue.

9. Think Hard About the Temperature

Trust us: Nothing is worse than being trapped inside a tent with no AC in August. Depending on your date, you may need air conditioners or heaters to keep everyone comfortable.

10. Do a Sound Check

Music will be nice and loud on the dance floor, but what about during dinner? Have your DJ or band do a test run to ensure that guests way over there can hear too.

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